Travels with V

Peru & Ecuador

Thin air in the Inca capital

Cusco part one

The thin air, yes. Many guide books and travel blogs warn you about doing what we do, travel to Cusco by air. At a height more that 3 300 meters above sea level the city has an air pressure and oxygen level alien to our lowland bodies. Almost immediately we experience a slight dizziness and we start panting from the slightest effort. Like just moving our feet. We see our fellow passengers proceed slowly and sort of dignified between the arrival entry and the luggage conveyor belts. It seems wise, so we mimic their movements.

In the days ahead we plan to take things really easy and rest a lot, to adapt to the height. We figure we need to be fit when we go up to Machu Picchu three days later. But resting here is not so easy. The body chemistry is in imbalance which makes it really hard to sleep. I find myself regularly gasping for air, leaving me upset and awake.

Cusco is a mountainous city although the central parts of it lies in  a narrow valley. Outside the centre the buildings crawl up the slopes of the surrounding mountains. We’re staying in a clean and nice hotel in San Blas, a “bohemian” district we’re told, that has narrow steep streets. And yes, it’s surely “bohemian”. Side by side with the indigenous street vendors there are lots of young western hippies with tired eyes selling homemade metal wire kitsch. The bystanders are young western tourists, most of them from USA or Latin America.

The streets of San Blas are extremely narrow, but that doesn’t stop a steady stream of cars from entering them. Turning a corner most often has to be performed by a couple of back-and-forth moves before the driver can proceed. As a pedestrian you have to constantly flee up on a diminutive sidewalk to let them pass.

In the afternoon when we feel strong enough to go and find some place to eat we walk down to the great Plaza de Armas square. Lined by churches and cheap diners it has a golden statue of an Inca king in the middle. The king is Pachacutec and the statue has caused some heated debates here. Some have said it’s a stylistic crime to have an Inca statue on such an iconic Spanish square. But the statue is put there by order of the city mayor who for many years has promoted an “Inca-ization” of Cusco. We see the Inca rainbow flag everywhere, it looks like the flag used in the Pride movement.

Plaza de Armas is situated on the exact spot where previously there was an Inca square. So in accordance with all other efforts to obliterate everything connected to Inca culture and history the Spanish conquistadors turned it into a purely Spanish plaza. And it was here the rebel Tupac Amaro got his head chopped off in 1781. As a symbolic gesture.

But when we reach the square it’s overrun by a maelstrom of people, dancing in fancy indigenous-looking costumes to marching bands, or perched on platforms or ledges surrounding the square. It’s a carnival of some sort, some of the dancers wear hideous masks. A TV crew is broadcasting live. We are told that each group of dancers (with their own musicians) represent a company, an institution or a union, and everyone wants to join in this fiesta.

The parading goes on for hours, more and more people pour into the square, but after a while we remember that we were actually on our way to find a bit to eat. So again we go looking for a decent restaurant. Pushing our way through the crowds we finally find one that becomes a favourite in Cusco. The door is guarded by the worlds worst barker, a very old and very small man who without a word opens the door to let you in.

Next chapter is about a new day in Cusco when we join most of the city folks in the celebration of Inti Raymi, the most important Inca ceremony of all. 

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Jag som gör den här resebloggen heter Lars Aldman och jag har tidigare jobbat som journalist mm på SR och SVT. Och "V" som jag reser med är min älskade hustru Veronica, journalist och fotograf.

Vår favoritsysselsättning är att resa runt i världen och se andra kulturer och samhällen. I flera år har vi äventyrat i Asien, Afrika och Latinamerika, och även naturligtvis i Europa. Och vi vill gärna dela med oss av våra erfarenheter och glädjeämnen, och hoppas att ni vill följa med oss!

PS. På sajten aldmangallery.com hittar ni mina bilder från både när och (mest) fjärran. Djur, natur, samhällen och människor.
Resebloggar finns det gott om men vi har en lite annan tanke med våra berättelser. Vi vill främst beskriva våra upplevelser av udda platser, människorna vi möter och miljöer som är rätt annorlunda mot vad vi möter hemma.

Därför hamnar vi ibland i avlägsna indianbyar i Guatemalas berg eller bland andetroende bybor på en ö i Indonesien. Men också på mer kända platser som Machu Picchu i Peru eller sandstränderna i Goa. Allt sett genom våra ögon och kameror.

Den som vill ha restips får också sitt - varje resmål har en avdelning med sånt vi kan rekommendera. Eller undvika. Vårt fokus är framför allt att sporra er läsare att göra som vi - resa rätt ut i den vida världen.

Jag heter Lars Aldman och har bl a jobbat som journalist mm på SR och SVT.  Och "V" som jag reser med är min älskade hustru Veronica, som också är journalist och fotograf. Vi älskar att resa och uppleva andra kulturer. I flera år har vi rest omkring i världens fyra hörn och vi vill gärna dela med oss av våra erfarenheter och glädjeämnen på dessa upptäcktsfärder. Hoppas ni vill följa med!

Hej!

Vår senaste resa gick till Albanien där vi under tre veckor upplevde detta okända men så spännande och vackra land. Från de hisnande höga bergen i norr, de gamla städerna och de djupa floddalarna i landets mitt, till de långa stränderna med sitt klara vatten i söder. Klicka på Albanien och läs om landets dramatiska historia och dess vänliga och gästfria invånare.

NYTT!

There's now a new addition to the blog, about our trip to Albania. During three weeks we traveled up and down this unknown but beautiful country. From the high mountains in the north to the ancient towns and the deep valleys inland, to the sandy beaches and the clear green water in the south. Click on Albania in the map and read about its dramatic history and kind and hospitable people.

NEW!
I'm Lars Aldman from Sweden. I worked for many years at the Swedish National TV and Radio, but now my main interest is traveling around the world with "V", my lovely wife Veronica, who is a freelance journalist and photographer.
For the last ten years we have traveled through Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. We love to experience different cultures and societies and we hope you'll join us!